Toronto is a big, complex city and looks challenging to get around, but the good news is, not only is it clean, safe and highly livable, it offers an abundance of transportation choices.
Whether you have to get to a business meeting quickly, want take a leisurely ride to see a new social acquaintance for drinks, or would like to explore the city streets on a bike, read on to see the different ways the city can move you.
Let Someone Drive for You
Toronto has lots of taxi cabs, which you can easily order via phone or though different cab services apps, such as Beck Taxi’s. Calling a taxi service, ordering through their app or having someone call a cab for you is a good idea, especially after dark, so you are not left waiting on the street. Or you can find taxis parked outside many major hotels, transit stations and event venues, such as the Sheraton Centre, Union Station and the Rogers Centre. It costs $4 the minute you step in a cab and then $0.25 for each additional 155 metres travelled after that.
For cost effective fares, the city is reliably serviced by the usual ride-sharing services: Uber and Lyft. Though keep in mind that in periods of peak demand surge pricing will kick in. When using a ride share, make sure to check the car make, licence and driver with the information and image on your phone app.
If you’re willing to brave Toronto’s traffic congestion, then the city has all the usual car rental agencies, with major brands and small discount companies. You can easily pick up a car when you land at Pearson International Airport or from one of the locations around town. Periodic high demand makes getting reservations a good idea.
Toronto also has car-sharing services, such as Zipcar. Once you’ve downloaded the service’s app and are approved, you can rent sedans, hybrids, vans and other vehicles by the hour or day, for reasonable rates, picking them up from different lots around town. Keep in mind that some locations are more remote and less-well lit than other, so keep this in mind if your pick-up or drop-off is at night.
Parking can be expensive in Toronto. So look for lots marked with a Green P sign, owned by the city and typically offering lower rates. You can also download the Green P app, enabling mobile payment of parking on many lots and for street parking throughout the city.
Again, some of these parking lots and street parking locations are in well-lit, high traffic areas, while others may be in remote locations. Or you may find yourself in a big parking garage of many many levels, with minimal security. So please exercise caution. Sometimes it is worth it to pay more for the lot right by your destination or consider leaving the car at home/hotel and cab it.
Ride the Rocket
The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) offers a network of subway trains, streetcars and buses serving much of the city. An adult fare is currently $3.25. If you are going to take more than a couple of trips, we recommend getting a rechargeable PRESTO card, which lowers the fare cost to $3 and makes it much easier to pay for rides on the “red rocket.”
You can find out when a streetcar or bus is going to arrive at the stop where you are waiting by downloading the Rocket Man app (it also has bike-sharing locations). The subway hours of operation on weekdays and Saturdays are approximately 6 am to 1:30 am, and Sunday service approximately 8 am to 1:30 am. You can find complete schedules and maps for streetcar, bus and subway service here.
The TTC is one of the safest transit systems in the world. If you need emergency medical, police or fire services, subway cars have long yellow strips you can push for emergency services.
Also for safety note that there is a Designated Waiting Area (DWA) on every platform in the subway system. You can recognize this waiting area by its prominent lighting and bold DWA sign. Each DWA is also equipped with a two-way voice intercom for speaking to the collector on duty, a CCTV camera for the collector to see who is using the intercom and a public telephone. DWAs are located at the same spot on every subway platform.
As well, Go Transit offers bus and train service to surrounding suburbs and communities (your PRESTO card can also be used for this).
Take a Bike Ride
Toronto does have a Bike Share program, with nearly 3,000 bicycles and 300 stations around the city. You can pick up your bike at one station and then lock it up at another, at or near your destination. A day pass is $7, and includes the first 30 minutes of every ride (after that you pay $4 per 30 minutes).
If you want to wear a helmet, you will need to bring or buy your own. The biking stations are in all different kinds of locations, some more remote and less-well lit than others. Usually this isn’t a concern during the day but exercise caution at night.
If you are worried about traffic, the city does have a variety of bike lanes for safer peddling. Click here to see a map.
Go by Water
The city is nestled on shores of Lake Ontario. If you want to visit Toronto Island, you can take a ferry from the downtown Jack Layton Ferry Terminal. A round-trip ticket is currently $7.71.
You can also ride out to the island via a water taxi ($10 per adult), such as the Toronto Harbour Water Taxi. Hourly water taxi ($200 per hour) and water limo ($300 per hour) rentals are also available for excursions.
Generally, water taxi services are not available in winter.
However you decide to get around the city, you should find your visit to Toronto fun and rewarding—a very moving experience.